Social Supper Clubs: Dinner with friends, old & new
Dining clubs are not a new concept. Recently the Toronto Serial Diners celebrated their silver anniversary. The group has been going out to dinner every Friday for the last 25 years, letting the Yellow Pages' alphabetical listings of restaurants be their guide.
But you don’t have to have been around for a quarter of a century to dine out with a group. Folks are forming their own social supper clubs across the city.
The Super Supper Club started last November. Dani Cooper, the founder, was talking to some of her co-workers – the Client Care Team at a downtown veterinary hospital - about a recent Ethiopian dinner she’d had. During the conversation, “I discovered many of them hadn't tried Ethiopian before, so we decided to go one day after work. During the dinner we all thought it would be great if this became a regular meeting where we would each choose a restaurant to try or share with the rest of the group,” she says. “We all love food. Trying new foods and restaurants and experiences is one of our favourite things. Toronto has so many amazing restaurants and we want to try them all!” With currently ten members, about 6-7 attend each dinner, held every two months.
This past summer, the Leslieville Supper Club (LSC - pictured above) was launched by Katie Reid, owner of KatyK9.
“LSC was created in response to the amount of ongoing construction in the neighbourhood this summer and how is was adversely affecting local businesses, especially restaurants along the Queen East strip. As a local resident and business owner, I felt compelled to do something! And knowing how much Leslievillians love to eat, shop and play in the 'hood, I rallied the online community to join me in this venture to help these businesses during this tough time. It's now a regular monthly occurrence and a great way to connect 'neighbours' online in real time!”
With 156 members and growing (about 10% come out for every monthly LSC edition), it is clearly filling a need for those wanting to try new restaurants and cuisines and meet new people.
The Super Supper Club selects the month’s restaurant putting everyone's name in a hat and choosing a winner. They either pick a restaurant they are interested in trying, or offer one of their favourites to share with the group. “At each dinner club we pick from the hat again,” Dani says. “Your name can only be entered in the hat if you are in attendance at that particular dinner.” So far, they have visited Lalibela Ethiopian,, Banjara Indian Cuisine and Rancho Relaxo, to name a few.
The LSC chooses their restaurants slightly differently. Katie chooses a date, time and theme each month and picks five or so restaurants to choose from. Then it's put to a vote within the group. "Majority rules, I confirm the guest list and book the reservation a few days in advance,"Katie says. "Initially I focused on the Queen/Broadview and Queen/Leslie areas that were hit hard during construction. Now we branch out off the beaten path and spread the LSC love around!"
So far, they have dined at Leslie Jones, Eastside Social, Ruby WatchCo. and Lahore Tikka House.
Members of the LSC are mostly local community residents, but the club is open to anyone who loves the east end and as Katie says, “loves supporting local!” Anyone wishing to join them - from the east side and beyond – can do so on their Facebook page.
Perhaps these groups will inspire you to start your own. After all, you needn’t be a food expert - just enjoy dining out and meeting new people.